Imagine you’ve worked at the same type of job for over two decades, but then one day it hits you: your teenage daughter will graduate from high school in less than two years and you don’t want to do what you’ve been doing for the rest of your life.
And… you’re middle aged.
That happened to me in 2008.
Although I’ve wanted to be a writer since I was old enough to read on my own, prior to my mid-life “awakening,” so to speak, for more than two dozen years my life revolved around administrative and office management roles—in part due to my mad typing skills of more than 120 words per minute (true story). But I never stopped wanting to be a writer.
You are never too old to set another goal or to dream a new dream. ~ C.S. Lewis
Fast forward to life in 2011. Armed with a shiny new Bachelor of Arts in literature, writing and film earned at Arizona State University, two semesters logged in as an intern with Superstition Review, as well as the title of cofounder and manager of Scribes @ ASU, a writing club intended “to further the social, cultural, and academic interests of the students enrolled in a literature-based degree program,” it was time to put my education to work.
Fortunately, during my final two semesters at ASU and while working as an intern with [s]r under the mentorship of Trish Murphy, founding editor, I discovered my love of everything publishing related. However, I knew if I planned on getting anywhere, I needed experience in the field. And the sooner the better… I wasn’t getting any younger.
Today is your day. You’re off to Great Places! You’re off and away! ~ Dr. Seuss
In less than a month following graduation, another seasoned editor took a chance on this (tongue-in-cheek) “old dog” and brought me on staff as an editorial intern at a print and online publication catering to all things beauty. With infinite patience, the editor-in-chief taught me new tricks that consisted of fact-finding, writing blogs and articles, posting online social media and managing the magazine’s website. I couldn’t have been more ecstatic.
Following three months of showing up at my cubicle and regular staff meetings, acquiring invaluable knowledge and a greater passion for the business, I sought my first “real” job in publishing.
Unfortunately, it wasn’t as easy as I had hoped to land a position in the industry. After more than six months of applying for both freelance and full-time opportunities—and either being rejected or unable to find the right fit—it was tempting to fall back on my administrative and office management experience. The logic-thinking side of my brain knew there was nothing wrong with that, but the creative side countered louder: I went back to school to write!
One evening, after yet another rejection (“We’re sorry, we chose someone with more experience”—the proverbial Catch 22 where experience is required, yet can’t be gained until someone hires you first), I scanned the online Craigslist postings under the administrative category… just in case.
If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again. ~ W.C. Fields
If a headline could scream, this one did—complete with bells and whistles. Adorned in big bold letters, the word PUBLISHING radiated a thousand promises. The advertised opening, about four days old, publicized the position of administrative coordinator for a small commercial publishing firm within a few miles of my home. And the best part? I was qualified.
Yes, I’d be managing an office, including phones and spreadsheets and mailings, but I would also be working with ad insertions, copy-editing and social media. Convinced I could do the office part with my eyes closed and my hands tied behind my back (almost), and with new-found enthusiasm and an emotion I equated to hope, that night I submitted my application. I interviewed two days later, received a job offer the next morning and began my new role the following Monday.
Deadlines, grammar and A.P—oh my! ~ Me
Working for a small company means I juggle a variety of responsibilities daily—from admin to materials trafficker, to customer service, assistant editor, social media guru and website content coordinator, to eNewsletter administrator, researcher and writer. I work with sales, advertisers, circulation, PR, IT and design. And, on a bi-monthly basis, I interview field personnel for featured Q&As in one of the company’s publications.
The expertise I’m gaining in the publishing industry is instrumental. But, I’m convinced my accomplishments over the past three years would not have been possible without my education at ASU and the fundamental experience I obtained while working on the [s]r staff, through my internship with In With Skin magazine and training under the leadership of select educators and editors. My freelance portfolio also continues to expand and includes several blogs and articles for In With Skin; articles for Paradise Valley Lifestyle magazine; nonfiction pieces for Kalliope, a former online literary magazine at ASU and guest blog posts for [s]r.
Grow old with me! The best is yet to be. ~ Robert Browning
While serving my internship with [s]r, in an Oct. 2, 2010 interview I was asked: “Where do you see yourself in 10 years?”
My response: “…I see myself enjoying the fruit of my education and passion for the art of the written word… as well as working in some type of publishing/editing capacity.”
With another six years to go until 2020, I’m awash with anticipation, on track as I approach the mid-century mark—an old dog balancing on the edge of a hat brimming with shiny new tricks.
If you feel like there’s something out there that you’re supposed to be doing, if you have a passion for it, then stop wishing and just do it. ~ Wanda Skyes